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I just finished watching part one of an online course. Online course, but it’s actually a real class, that was recorded at MIT and was made available to everyone online for free – The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Open CourseWare or MIT-OCW. The course I started is about Quantum Physics.
Since the first time I read about quantum stuff, I was already hooked. It presents ideas that are just ‘out of this world’ – Theories that sound magical, and sometimes illogical. I didn’t have the time before or I got distracted by something else so I did not continue researching more about it. I tried downloading a book before but it sounded too complicated and boring for me so I dropped.
—-Journal entry before I start my first class—-
I’ve spent a lot of time watching tv shows. Not that it’s totally not good but it’s too time consuming. After finishing the series Silicon Valley, I thought of making my own company – my own product. But how can I make one with my current capabilities? I need and want to learn first. The subjects I’m interested in are programming, quantum mechanics, physics, and AI/Robotics/Electronics. Today I’m starting with Quantum physics. I hope I can comprehend it with my current physics and engineering background
—-End journal entry—-
Title: Quantum Physics I
Course No. 8.04
Lesson 1: Introduction to superposition
Prof. Allan Adams
I decided to jump to 8.04 which is Quantum Physics because 8.01 to 8.03 are Physics I, II, and III which I think, I already studied/finished at my current university. Even if we wasted a lot of our times/papers/inks just writing “Discussion Of Theories” in my university, I think I’ve understood most of the basic concepts of Physics, and had some background on the advanced topics. I took an engineering course, not physics so I understand that we didn’t dive really deep.
I’ve been studying for around 15 years now, but this is the best class I’ve ever had. I saw the difference between a 3rd world country university and MIT. Not to say that I’m not learning anything at my university, but I think I’m not being able to maximize my learning. Here, even I’m just behind a screen, watching a class recorded around 2 years ago, I was engaged. I really felt being actually inside the class and listening to the professor. Quite opposite sometimes when I’m at school and my mind wanders around and ride the clouds.
Professor Adams is a very great professor. He explains things very creatively and, he encourages students to participate and ask questions, and he answers all the questions well. Unlike some, who if they can’t answer the question either answers something vague, throw a question back, makes up an answer, changes the topic, says it’s irrelevant, etc. – Which results to students avoiding asking questions because it might sound ‘stupid’. Because what I noticed in our university, most of the time, if it’s a question that sounds like it won’t come out on the quizzes or exams, it’s not worth asking. For Prof. Adams, he really knows what he’s teaching and once you ask a question, he addresses it very well, that you will want to ask a question sometime again; he’s very encouraging.
I was hooked from the first minute until the very end. I never got bored any minute of the class because he was very funny, and had a lot of interesting ways to explain things and stories to tell. If all professor are like him, I think no student will ever sleep in a class.
Basically it’s about the properties of an electron. The professor explained the concept in a simple way so he called the properties ‘color’ and ‘hardness’ but those are just jargons. He didn’t tell us yet what are those actually called but the point is, in terms of color, an electron can be black or white, and it can also be hard or soft. One .. is that it’s repeatable, if you test an electron using a box and it’s black, if you test it again it will still be black, a hundred percent chance. The same with being white, hard or soft. Another .. is it’s color and hardness are uncorrelated.
If for example, you take a bunch of white electrons, and run it into a hardness box, the result will be 50% hard and 50% soft. Even if you use black – 100 percent sure! The same vice versa, if you take a bunch of hard electrons and run it in a color box, 50% will come out as white, 50% will come out as black. Which if you actually think about it is a mind fck. Imagine having 100 white electrons, and no matter how many times you test it in the color box, it’s always white. If you test it in the hardness box, 50% will be hard, 50% will be soft. Now, is all of them white? If you run them on a color box again, it becomes 50% white, 50% black.
With those established, certain setups were done, which introduced us to the uncertainty principle and superposition. If an electron is white for example, it is neither hard or soft, but is in a state superposition. The same vice versa.